New community justice courts confirmed

The government’s community courts scheme is expanding, with three new courts set to open this month.

Communities in two London boroughs and Methyr Tydfill in Wales will be able to work with court staff and magistrates as part of the initiative designed to tackle the root causes of crime.

The system is based on the belief that involving local communities in the legal process helps to improve understanding of and increase confidence in the criminal justice system.

Community justice minister Maria Eagle said today: “Community justice courts are an efficient and effective way of conducting court operations, increasing public confidence in the system, reducing crime and giving communities the power to influence decisions.

“They are invaluable in ensuring that the criminal justice system meets the diverse needs of our local communities.”

Local people can work with magistrates to identity issues of concern, anti-social behaviour and ways to reduce re-offending.

The courts follow a strong multi-agency approach, with links to the police, probation, youth offending teams and crown prosecution services.

Building on their community links, the courts also work with community services including drug and alcohol counselling, housing, victim support, employment advice and community safety partnerships.

The first community justice court was set up in Liverpool in 2005 and ten further courts have since been opened and are operating successfully. They will now be joined by new centres in Methyr Tydfill, Newham and Haringey.